Cleveland Browns: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart at Running Back
The Cleveland Browns finally have a competitive group of guys to build with at the running back position. Granted, not all of them could handle being the team's leading back, but Ben Tate, Terrance West and even Dion Lewis will get a shot to land the starting role for this team.
Tate and West are the leading candidates at this point, but Lewis' speed and agility are hard to ignore.
Past those three are a handful of unproven runners, not all of which will make this team. Out of those in the group, I believe Isaiah Crowell will rise above the rest and solidify himself as a valuable player. Well, valuable enough to be worth keeping.
Overall, it's a nice mix of speed and size from these guys and will surely provide a much-needed boost to Cleveland's offense.
4th-String Running Back: Isaiah Crowell
Not much is expected of Isaiah Crowell, as Cleveland’s depth chart is especially potent at running back, but he does have good ability. Crowell also has great size, which he utilizes to grind out yards.
If not for some character issues in college, he would’ve definitely been picked up earlier in the draft.
Crowell has some serious talent, but he will have to prove himself before gaining any real opportunities in Cleveland’s offense. Even so, he’s a nice option to have on the roster.
3rd-String Running Back: Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis is where Cleveland’s running back picture gets a bit blurry, but that’s a good thing. Lewis’ career as an NFL runner has been skimp so far, but he may finally get his chance to snag some serious carries in 2014.
In his three years in the NFL, Lewis has only been afforded 36 carries, but he has an average of 4.8 yards per attempt. He’s a smaller, speedy back who could be the perfect complement to Tate’s more physical running style.
Lewis will provide some competition for the rookie West, which should make for an awesome camp battle. He didn’t have a single carry in 2013, but he'll likely get a chance to play more in Kyle Shanahan’s offense—an offense that easily favors more than one running back.
Even if West ends up beating him out for the No. 2 role, Lewis could still find some carries here and there, as he does have game-breaking speed.
Backup Running Back: Terrance West
Terrance West could not only be the steal of the 2014 draft, but he could play his way into a 50-50 starting role with Tate, maybe even more. Cleveland has struggled to find much talent at running back since the Jamal Lewis days (excluding Peyton Hillis’ Cinderella season), but it is now pretty loaded with West, Lewis and Tate.
West is a natural for the zone-blocking scheme that Kyle Shanahan will be running, and that will be what drives his number of carries up.
His mix of physicality and elusiveness is part of what makes him so special as a runner, and he likely would’ve been drafted much higher if he was coming from a bigger school than Towson.
Even so, West shined for his hometown school and could be the best Tiger-turned-NFL player since Jermon Bushrod in 2006.
Starting Running Back: Ben Tate
Tate is slated to be Cleveland’s next starting running back and is in a good situation as we head into the 2014 season. He will be in front of one of the best offensive lines he’s had since coming into the NFL, which should allow him to shine in his first gig as a starting running back.
Tate racked up 771 yards as well as four touchdowns last season, all while averaging 4.3 yards per carry. In fact, his yards-per-carry average is higher than that of every other starting running back from the AFC North in 2013.
Tate is someone that the Browns can build their offense around, and he will surely perform well as long as he can stay healthy. Especially if they can get anything going in the passing game, the Browns could find some much needed-balance because of Tate.